Tag: LAPD

Los Angeles Police Commission Votes 3-1 to Approve Policy on LAPD Body Cameras

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LAPD Officer Jin Oh displays video from a body camera. Some residents have raised privacy and civil liberties questions about the use of the devices. (Photo: Marcus Yam/ latimes.com)

The Los Angeles Police Commission voted Tuesday to approve a policy for equipping officers with body cameras, moving the LAPD a step closer to becoming the nation’s largest law enforcement agency to adopt the widespread use of the devices.

The 3-1 vote occurred after a sometimes-heated discussion over whether officers should be allowed to review video from the cameras before writing reports or giving statements to investigators following serious force incidents.

Civil libertarians opposed allowing officers to review the footage, though LAPD officials said investigators may prevent officers from looking at the video following force incidents that might result in a criminal investigation of the officers.

Continue reading “Los Angeles Police Commission Votes 3-1 to Approve Policy on LAPD Body Cameras”

Los Angeles to Buy 7,000 Body Cameras for Police Officers

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Tuesday that the city would purchase 7,000 body cameras for police officers in an effort to increase transparency.

Body cameras for officers have become a major issue in the wake of the shooting of unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer and the conflicting accounts of what happened.

At a news conference, Garcetti said the cameras “are not a panacea, but they are a critical part of the formula. They’re a great step forward.”

“The trust between a community and its police department can be eroded in a single moment,” Garcetti said. “Trust is built on transparency.”

Advocates say the cameras will be a valuable tool for the department. The ability to record audio and video of police encounters with the public, they say, could help guard against officer misconduct and clear cops falsely accused of wrongdoing.

Steve Soboroff, president of the Police Commission, has spent months raising private money to outfit officers with on-body cameras. He said the mayor’s plan would supplement the contract the LAPD was already negotiating with the camera vendor, eventually bringing more cameras to officers on the streets.

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 8.29.06 PMMore than $1 million raised through private donations will help pay for the cameras, thus avoiding City Hall budget constraints.

Soboroff called the mayor’s plan a “very big deal,” saying the LAPD’s use of the cameras could set a precedent for law enforcement agencies nationwide.

Earlier this year, the LAPD began a pilot program, testing different types of body cameras. Officers spent 90 days trying out camera equipment while department officials gathered input from the inspector general, the American Civil Liberties Union and other law enforcement agencies that have implemented the technology.

article by Richard Winton and Kate Mather via latimes.com

Los Angeles Police Department Fires Detective Over Racially-Charged Recordings

R.I.P. Author and Los Angeles Black Panther Leader Wayne Pharr

Wayne PharrWayne Pharr, former Black Panther who fought the Los Angeles Police in a historic gun battle in 1969, passed away on September 6, 2014 at age 64.  After Pharr and his fellow Panthers defended themselves from the long violent attack by the newly formed LAPD SWAT unit, he became a political prisoner who was exonerated of attempted murder and all other serious offenses.  Pharr eventually became a successful realtor in Southern California, a subject of the documentary, “41st and Central”, and most recently authored the well received autobiography, Nine Lives of A Black Panther: A Story of Survival.

In the infamous battle on December 8, 1969, a handful of young members of the Southern California Chapter of the Black Panther Party held off the Los Angeles Police Department’s new Special Weapons and Tactics squad and hundreds of other officers in a five hour firefight.

Pharr was 19 years old at the time and played a pivotal role in the battle as one of the first to repel the invasion into the Panther office by shooting the heavily armored SWAT team members with a shotgun as they entered the Black Panther office at Central Avenue and 41st Street.  No one was killed or seriously injured in the battle during which thousands of rounds of ammunition were exchanged and bombs used by both sides.

Observed by hundreds of members of the community, the Black Panther Party and their supporters considered the defense of the office and the people inside a victory while the Los Angeles Police Department considered this very first use of SWAT a tactical failure.  Pharr and the other Panthers were tried for attempted murder and other charges but were acquitted of all of the most serious offenses after the longest jury trial in Los Angeles history up to that time.

The battle at the Panther Party Central Avenue office was significant for several reasons.  The attack came days after another police assault in Chicago left Illinois Panther leaders Fred Hampton shot dead while sleeping in his bed and Mark Clark killed at the front door attempting to fend off the attack.  These attacks occurred during a nationwide war against the Black Panther Party by local police agencies in cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation through the FBI’s illegal Counter Intelligence Program, also known as “Cointelpro”. This was also the debut of the paramilitary SWAT team concept which used military style training, weapons and tactics to crush Black resistance during a time of revolutionary fervor and anti-war activity by activists across the country. Historically, this battle can be seen as the birth of the movement to militarize law enforcement that has swept the country.

In the documentary, “41st & Central”, Pharr describes his feelings about the 1969 battle with the LAPD SWAT team:

“So for those five hours, I was in control of my destiny… I was my own power at that particular point and time. And I relished that, and I enjoyed that and I think about that constantly.  I was free! I was a free negro… yes sir!”

Recently, Pharr wrote the following reaction to the police response to community protests against the killing of unarmed 17 year old Black youth Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri:

“Are we Americans, or are we not? If we are, then the police need to stand down, like they did in 1968 with the SDS, Students for a Democratic Society–an activist group made up of white students. With that group, instead of coming in with guns blazing, they attempted to have a dialogue with the student-activists…  If we are not Americans, then we need to go to war. The continuing militarization of police forces is a reminder of my  encounter in 1969, the 5-hour battle we had with the newly-formed L.A. SWAT team at 41st and Central. It becomes a matter of principle, our right to self-defense.”

article by Good Black News staff

R.I.P. Leo Branton Jr., Civil Rights Lawyer Who Defended Angela Davis

April 6, 1972: Defense attorney Leo Branton listens to Angela Davis as the two walk from court at San Jose. For obit of Branton.
April 6, 1972: Defense attorney Leo Branton listens to Angela Davis as the two walk from court at San Jose.

Leo Branton Jr., a civil rights and entertainment lawyer whose stirring defense of ’60s radical Angela Davis brought him his most celebrated victory in a six-decade career often spent championing unpopular cases, died of natural causes Friday in Los Angeles. He was 91.  His death was confirmed by his son Tony Nicholas.

Branton, the only African-American graduate of Northwestern University’s law school in 1948, helped singer Nat King Cole integrate an exclusive Los Angeles neighborhood, defended Communists in McCarthy-era Los Angeles and won misconduct cases against the Los Angeles Police Department decades before Rodney King became a household name.

“He was a hero of mine,” said Connie Rice, a prominent Los Angeles civil rights attorney who helped lead efforts to reform the LAPD after the King beating.  “All the things I’ve done, Leo Branton did 50 years before I even thought about going to law school. He saw himself not as a private practitioner out to make money for himself but as a lawyer with the skills to be a champion for black liberation.”

Continue reading “R.I.P. Leo Branton Jr., Civil Rights Lawyer Who Defended Angela Davis”

Man Wrongly Convicted Can Sue Los Angeles Police Department, Federal Court Panel Rules

Ex-inmate can sue LAPD, panel rules

Harold C. Hall, a Los Angeles man who spent 19 years in prison for murders he did not commit, will be able to sue the LAPD, a panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Monday. (Los Angeles Times)

A Los Angeles man who spent 19 years in prison for murders he did not commit will be able to sue the LAPD, a panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Monday.  Harold C. Hall should be permitted to amend his complaint against the city to allege that officers coerced his confession, which the court said was made as a result of “desperation, fear and fatigue,” in possible violation of the 5th Amendment. Continue reading “Man Wrongly Convicted Can Sue Los Angeles Police Department, Federal Court Panel Rules”